Monthly Archives: February 2011

Dinner – Funny Eater Style

I never was one of those people that loved meat. I ate it, I still eat it once in a while, but the smell of meat increasingly bothers me. Even chicken bothers me. The problem with this dislike for meat is that I need to eat protein. I workout quite a bit and protein is essential.

So, after a hard workout focusing on upper body, mostly upper back and shoulders, and a run on the treadmill after, I need protein and this is what I came up with.

A good dose of vegetarian chili that is made with lentils (see recipe on 101cookbooks: Pierce Street Vegetarian Chili), which I had previously made and frozen, a dash of shredded colby jack cheese, and a heaping scoopful of quinoa.  I made the quinoa fresh.

While I was cooking up the quinoa, I put the thawed chili and a big pinch of cheese in a microwave proof glass bowl and nuked it for a minute, stirred, and then another minute in the microwave.

Put a big heaping scoop of freshly made quinoa on top and stir until well combined.  Cheesey goodness.  Mmm.

Three cheers for vegetarian protein!

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Late Night Eating and Cooking

It’s been a long time since I’ve been up this late without there being an impending exam in less than a handful of hours.  I do have an impending exam, but it’s still a couple of days away.

I usually go to sleep relatively early.  Mostly because I’m too tired to deal with whatever I should be dealing with and sleep seems like a much better option.  I always think that things will look better in the morning.  Sometimes they do and sometimes I just wake up crabby anyway.

However, this is not the point of this post.  The point of this post is sweet and tasty things

Last night, that is Friday into Saturday, I was bequeathed a slice of cheesecake.  Now, usually, I’d be a little bit turned off by the idea of eating a whole piece of cheesecake  – the thick and creamy kind.  It’s just with all the hard work I put in at the gym, I’d rather not eat something like a cheesecake, and usually I don’t really have much of a hankering for it.

Lately though, I seem to crave sweets.  Chocolate especially.  I’m sitting here waiting for my brownies to cool (made from this recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Best-Cocoa-Brownies-108346) with a glass of wine.

I had a wine and cheese party a little over a week ago (it seems like much longer ago) and in lieu of having going out kind of fun, I figured I’d open one of the bottles of wine that was left.  The red that I’m drinking is a very light red.  I’m used to my red wine being darker and deeper.  This one is thinner and closer to the consistency of a white.  It surprised me, but it’s a nice glass of wine.  I’m still a deeper red kind of girl, but this is a good wine.

So yes, I’m up late cooking up some brownies because I feel awake and well I want to eat some brownies.  Now, unless these brownies are really good, I’m going to say that just buying the Ghirardelli’s Dark Chocolate Brownies in a box is much less work and results in fantastic brownies.  I served them at the wine party and they were really fantastic.  I’m all for making things from scratch, but really, I’m tired and the box brownies were surprisingly good and easy.

Well, I’m getting a little bit sleepy now and I hope I can get some sleep.  I need to study all day tomorrow and really I’m just tired.  I want to have a nice long vacation.

PS I made mac and cheese from scratch today and it was terrible…I had to throw it out…I think it was the fact that I used whole wheat pasta that just didn’t taste very good…I was very upset that I threw out what amounted to a very expensive dish.  Sigh.  Annie’s Mac and Cheese is where it’s at.  No more mac and cheese from scratch.  Box mac and cheese, box brownies.


Clean the Plate Club

How many of you are part of the Clean the Plate Club??  Come on, I know you are out there.  Well, I am most definitely part of the Clean the Plate Club.  My parents had strict rules about eating everything on our plates at dinner and if we brought home lunch uneaten, we got in trouble.

I know that kids can be finicky eaters and that having them clean their plates has some value.  The problem is that now that I’m all grown up (well, sort of), the ingrained habit of cleaning the plate gets me into trouble.  I end up overeating, feeling gross for hours after I’ve eaten, and not really enjoying what I’ve eaten because I’m trying to eat everything on the plate.

In my life now, I try to avoid cleaning the plate.  If I’m full, I try to save the leftovers for another meal or for a snack or toss the left over food.  I know, throwing away food is super cringe inducing.  Even writing these last couple of sentences makes my upper back and neck seize up as I try to keep my entire face from going into a full force cringe.

If you haven’t noticed the downsides to being a member of the Clean the Plate Club, now is the time to think about it and become aware of it.  With the rising rates of obesity in this country (sorry, I had to put that in there), one of the things to think about is how we eat.  For those of us that just want to maintain our weight or maybe just lose a few pounds, these ideas can be helpful, too.

1. Be aware.  Be aware of your body’s signals.  Let your body speak to you.  This means that you need to turn that TV off and sit with your food.  Just you and the food.  How do you feel?  Are you hungry?  Are you sad?  Are you angry?  Are you stressed?  How about as you eat, are you feeling full?  After you eat, are you satisfied?  Check in with yourself as you eat.  This isn’t the easiest thing to do.  Since I live alone, being aware while I eat, means that I have to sit in my very quiet apartment alone with my food.  And sometimes that whole thing about feeling alone kind of bothers me.  So you’ll often find me watching TV online while I eat or trying to read for school while I eat.  Try to eat without those kinds of distractions.  Maybe not all the time, but try it a few times.  You might be surprised at what you find.

2. Do yoga. You might have looked at that and gone, “Huh??”  There was a study done (don’t ask me where it’s from…I’m good at storing the important information but not who the author is or what the study is, sorry for those of you who find that important) that found that people who practiced yoga were better able to maintain their weight and keep their weight down in middle age, which is when people typically start having more difficulty maintaining a healthy body state.  The researchers thought it had something to do with mindfulness and awareness…see #1.  🙂

Now, I tried this.  Not on purpose, but for a while, I was doing yoga almost everyday.  And I found that I was much more aware and in tune with my body and thus, my eating as well.  I stopped over eating and had an easier time pushing food away when I was done.  Find yoga that you like.  I did yoga with a video that I liked.  I recently tried a yoga class and it wasn’t for me.  So you need to find yoga that you like.  Similarly, you could always find another sort of practice that focuses on mindfulness, such as tai-chi, qui-gong, meditation, etc.  Even some martial arts can promote mindfulness.

Just as a warning, mindfulness and awareness aren’t always the most pleasant things to engage in.  It can seem scary.  I urge you to try it and try to sit with that feeling.  The feelings will pass and you might find out new things about yourself.

3. Plate just enough food. Decide how much you’re going to eat before you sit down.  This feels more like a diet, but if I consciously consider what I’m putting on my plate, then I can put down an amount of food that even if I cleaned the plate would not be catastrophic.  It’s another way at getting at the clean the plate compulsion.  You can indulge in cleaning the plate, but without overeating.

4. Decide how much you are going to eat. This is more a restaurant tactic.  When we are out eating, we are usually with our friends or family and the atmosphere is more festive.  So we talk and eat and talk and eat and talk and eat…well you get the idea.  And then you walk out of the restaurant feeling overly full and maybe even gross (at least that’s how I feel).  So, decide how much you are going to eat and stick to it.  After a while, with all the awareness practicing, you should be able to modulate eating much better, but in the beginning set some limits.  So when the appetizer comes out, figure out how much you are going to eat.  When your main dish comes out, decide how much you are going to eat, put it on a separate plate and then send the rest of it back to the kitchen to be wrapped up.  Now you can clean the plate and still walk out feeling good.

5. Eat on a schedule. I know it’s not fun to do most things on a schedule, much less eat.  It’s so much more fun to sneak in a piece of chocolate midday.  However, if you clean the plate, the one way to combat it is to eat when you aren’t ravenous.  When you eat on a schedule, your body will start to expect food at certain times but you won’t be getting to that point where even a piece of paper starts to look delicious.  Let me tell you, that is not a fun state to be in.  So eat on a schedule.  For all the really busy people, it might mean that you carry around a meal bar, protein bar, piece of fruit, or smoothie to combat hunger when you can’t get to eating right when you want to eat.

This is something to think about.  Clean the Plate Club is maybe a good idea, but it doesn’t serve us well as adults.  Consider your eating habits, your life, and how they are affecting you.  All the awareness that I suggest up above might open you up to other areas of your life.  I encourage you to let those things in and work on your life.  Healthy eating is not just what you put into your mouth, but it’s also about how you feel, how you think, and how things are going in your life.  Sometimes we have to look at things outside of food and eating to figure out what our relationship to food is.


Surprise of the Day

So I’m sitting right now in my friend’s living room babysitting their sleeping daughter while he and his wife are out to dinner.  I tried to watch some beautiful HD TV, since I do not own a TV and do most of my TV watching online.  (online TV might be worse than just TV itself – there is always something to watch)  After trying to watch a few different shows, I realized that I was just jumping all over the place and I wasn’t even enjoying the shows.

I tried a different tact.  I have been having a lot of Internet problems in my apartment, so I figured I should take advantage of the great internet here and study – aka watch lecture videos online.  Then I realized that the whole thing was slow and I wasn’t that interested.  So after some more random online surfing, I realized that I should work on this whole blogging thing.

I’ve been walking around with a bunch of things that I want to blog about.  The problem that I’m running into is that I never want to blog about just one thing.  I want to blog about whatever it is that I have my mind on and whatever it is that I’m feeling some passion for at the moment.  Yet, it seems like the most successful blogs have some kind of focus.  Anyway, that’s something I have to work out myself.

Well, I moseyed over to my dashboard here to figure out what I wanted to write and maybe things to improve on here and I was stunned to see that I actually have stats!  People have been reading my blog!  Yikes!  I’m not sure how that happened and I’m not very savvy with all the stats stuff, but people visited!

So dear readers, whoever you are, thank you for coming around.  I’ll try to make this more interesting somehow.


A Very Long Post

I should probably be in bed right about now, but I finally uploaded all the photos sitting on my camera and phone to my computer.  I also cannot take any more of the stress of knowing that I’ve taken a bunch of photos and they haven’t been posted.  So this is probably going to be the most annoyingly long post, but there will be lots of pictures.

Unfortunately, due to my neglect, most of these photos will not be in chronological order.

Let’s start with one of my favorite comfort foods/convenience foods.  Macaroni and cheese.  Now, I like to eat fancy foods, but I love Annie’s Mac and Cheese.

I started eating it in college and it still tastes so wonderful when I want to just indulge and not have to worry about the logistics of cooking.  There is definitely a lot of sodium, so I try to buy the one box that is lower sodium.  Lately, because of my attempt to keep the extra salt out of my life, I haven’t been eating much mac and cheese, but when I do, I add vegetables (usually frozen, since the theme is usually lazy when I’m eating mac and cheese).

All right, so moving right along here.  Next up is my chicken sandwich.  Now, if you don’t already know this about me, it’s probably something you should know.  I hate cooking meat.  I actually don’t really like meat to begin with, but given my crazy workout schedule and all the running around I do, I’m sure my body could use the protein and iron.  In any case, when I do try to eat some animal protein, I either eat out or have someone else cook it.

Well, my way around the cooking chicken for my chicken sandwich was to buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.  I bought the chicken and then took all the meat off and put it in a plastic bag in the fridge for eating.  So, I used the chicken one day to make this fantastic sandwich.  

Two slices of farm style bread, a handful of mixed greens, chicken, cheese, black pepper.  Now, I took the cold chicken from the fridge and heated it up in the frying pan with a teeny tiny bit of olive oil and a dash of black pepper, and then melted some cheese with it.  I don’t have a toaster, so the bread was toasted on the frying pan before I heated up the chicken.  Let me just say, this is a very delicious sandwich and this picture does not convey that tastiness.  I’m getting hungry just talking about it.

We must continue our journey.  Next up, a pretty picture of my hot chocolate from a local coffee shop.

Now, I have to say, that this was the only visit to this coffee shop that resulted in such a pretty looking hot chocolate.  After that, my hot chocolates were quite plain looking.  (On a side note, I have quit caffeine and this is putting a crimp in my coffee shop / studying habits … a story for another post.)

More… so a couple of weekends ago, I went on a crazy cooking spree.  I spent over a hundred dollars at the grocery store shopping for ingredients, but I cooked four plus recipes.  My spree was prompted by my disgust at having had to resort to Lean Cuisine meals the previous couple of weeks due to exam stress.  Let’s just say that amount of salt is gross and I did not feel good.

The first dish – Giant Chipotle White Beans off of 101cookbooks.

This is probably the tastiest new recipe that I’ve tried in a while.  I cannot tell you how amazing the flavors are.  (I think the picture would look better rotated, but that is not going to happen.)

Dish two of my culinary spree was vegetarian chili off 101cookbooks, which I wrote about in a previous post (https://funnyeater.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/starving/)

Dish three was a leek soup with dill oil from 101cookbooks (Yes, I love that website and the recipes).  Sadly, I did not take photos of this.  It is well frozen in my freezer right now.  So tasty.

Dish four was pumpkin feta muffins from 101cookbooks.  Except, mine were butternut squash and not pumpkin.  These are also undocumented and sitting tasty in my freezer.

Now, after that spree, I had all these leftover ingredients and I had to make use of them.  I hate wasting food.  So I made up some variations on a theme.

First variation – cilantro pesto tossed with super pasta (it’s a whole wheat pasta that actually tastes fantastic) and peas and corn (both of the frozen variety…I just add them to the boiling noodles when there is about two minutes left on the timer).

Next variation.  I had some chickpeas and yogurt and dill.  I also had some bread and left over queso blanco.  So I turned that into an appetizer looking thing.  I melted the queso blanco on the bread in the microwave oven (I would prefer to use a toaster oven, but I do not own one) and then topped it with my chickpeas smothered in a yogurt-dill-curry-scallion-black pepper-salt concoction.  If it was not so late and I wasn’t feeling so lazy, I would actually make it more of a recipe, but it’s late and I’m feeling a little lazy, so that’s the best you’re getting out of me right now.

Okay, now for a shot into the mundane for a moment.  The following is what my breakfast on weekends tends to look like.

Eggs with Vegetables

And finally, to round out this post…Valentine’s Day fun.  First up is what I had for lunch with my parents.  A skirt steak (I think…it was some cut of beef in any case) over some gnocchi.

And finally, the Valentine’s Day sweets.  Chocolate cupcake and some really chocolatey dessert thingie.  This clearly has to be the end of this post because my facility with words is going.

That's all frosting on top of the chocolate cupcake!

Not a very good picture, but extremely tasty. Complete chocolate bliss.

Well, that rounds up this long post that I’m hoping makes up for my lack of posting lately.  I have to figure out a way to be better about posting.  Hope you had fun.


Food Rules

In my quest to eat healthy, I have some food rules that I follow.  I don’t like to have strict rules because they stress me out.  So, maybe it’s better to call these guidelines.  Whatever you want to call them, they are as follows:

1. Eat whole grains.  Preferably as unprocessed as possible. I try to stick to grains like rice, farro, barley.  If I eat more processed grains, they are usually pasta made from kamut or whole wheat.  Bakery products are out.  The only thing close to a bakery product is sprouted wheat tortillas sometimes for breakfast.  The only thing about eating a diet full of whole grains is that they need to be balanced out because the high fiber can be a little too much for me.  So I usually even things out with some lower fiber grains like white rice.

2. Stay away from processed foods. This includes all those Lean Cuisine meals I ate over the last couple of weeks, canned foods, boxed mac and cheese (which I totally love), ramen (also tasty), and anything else that comes in a pre-made form.

3. Stay away from sugar. There is a lot of sugar in this world.  Sugar is added to everything.  After learning about high glycemic index and diabetes in school, I try to stay away from things with added sugar.  That includes candy, pastries, most juices, ice pops.  I do like sugar from time to time, but since I’m off coffee now, there is really no reason for sugar in my life.

4. Stay away from things with high salt. Salt makes me feel salty and dehydrated.  I also feel like I can’t drink enough water.  Plus, I learned that hypertension usually develops in the context of high salt intake.  Hypertension doesn’t run in my family, but it’s not a bad idea to still watch the salt.

5. Get enough protein. Protein is usually a problem for me.  I work out a lot and I don’t like meat all that much.  I have to remember my fish, beans, tofu, eggs, and quinoa.  I usually eat an egg with breakfast and then try to remember to include protein in my other meals.

 

So there you have it, my food rules.  🙂


Confessions

It’s been almost two months since my last post and I apologize.  I realize that I’m probably apologizing only to myself, but that’s fine.

I’ve been relatively uninspired lately on the food front.  In the exam crunch of the last month, I have eaten more microwave meals then I care to admit to.  All that processed food has me feeling like a big brick of salt.  I’m trying to get back to my healthy equilibrium, but it’s been a doozy trying to recover from my exam frenzy hangover.  Some problems that I’ve noticed in the last few weeks…

1.  Caffeine and I do not mix. I have always known that I am sensitive to caffeine.  Not allergic, but sensitive.  One cup of coffee can send me on a euphoric spree of productivity and happiness for a few days.  I’m sure the psychiatrists would call that caffeine-induced hypomania.  Whatever one wants to call it, I liked it and it was useful.  More recently, I have found that caffeine doesn’t give me that euphoric high any more and instead ingesting caffeine gives me a net downstream effect of complete and utter fatigue.  Now, this could also be because my caffeine use corresponds with periods of stress, lack of sleep, and a deterioration in diet, but when I’m completely caffeine free I feel a whole lot better and more focused.

2. Processed food is salty. If I haven’t commented on this yet, I definitely am amazed by how much salt there is in processed food.  One of my personal food rules is to attempt to eat as few processed items as possible – i.e. eating things in the form that they grow out of the ground as.

3. Healthy eating can be boring. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about healthy eating and living a healthy life.  I feel better that way.  However, eating healthy can feel boring sometimes.  Sometimes it seems though that I’m eating all the same vegetables and all the same dishes.  Less healthy eating definitely has more variety – baked goods, sugary sweets, fatty foods, etc.

 

I think I had more to say when I started this post, but exhaustion is coming over me, so I’ll stop there.  One more post on food rules and that’ll be it for the evening.